Whether it is to purchase goods or services, or apply for a job, one can easily become a victim of online fraud. Malicious individuals found a way of taking advantage of unsuspecting people and some have gone as far as clearing out personal bank accounts thus leaving their victims bankrupt and distressed. While you cannot be 100% safe from online fraudsters, there are a few ways to steer away from possible swindles. Here are a few tips on how to avoid being a victim of online fraud.
Check their website
When a company or institution tries to sell you their products or services, always go to their website first. A website can tell you whether the institution is credible. The general structure of the website and its contents should help you make an informed decision. Usually fraudsters do not go through the trouble of building their webpages. They therefore use photos without faces, provide vague information in their ‘about’ section and even lack provided contacts. Grammatical errors and scanty content should also be a red flag from the word go. Whether it is a hotel, school, or touring company, their website should give you almost all the information you need before talking to them directly.
Check their online presence
In the event that they do not have a website, for reasons such as them being fresh starters, then check their online presence in other platforms. An individual selling artefact for example, should have a visible online presence that is not too recent. You should be able to see posts of their work dating back to at least six months. An individual whose Facebook page or Instagram profile only has two or three posts, none of which is their photo or that of their work, should raise your suspicion. Anyone who uses social media to find customers always puts their work out first before sourcing for potential buyers.
Check for online reviews
Once you have confirmed the state of their website and online presence, your next step is to check for online reviews. Most online platforms have review sections where customers give their experiences, suggestions, and warnings. For hotels and travel destinations, Trip Advisor is a great platform to get these reviews. In case it is a personal business or page on social media, try to go through comment sections and see what other people have to say about the particular individual and their products or services. Genuine individuals often have customers appreciating them and confirming deliveries etc. When their page does not have any reviews or customer feedback, maybe you should look for other alternatives.
Prior payments and no physical meet ups
Although this is not a standard rule for all online sellers, a genuine individual should not have a problem with meeting with a potential customer. A person adamant in meeting physically should be reason for concern. Even if they do not have an office, they cannot miss a physical address where they could show you the items before you buy them. Most of the fraudsters who say no to physical meet ups also ask for money before delivery. This is always a warning sign especially when they cannot give you a physical receipt or evidence of transaction.
While it is easy to fall victim to online fraud, it is possible to avoid it. We hope these tips help.